Turkey Could Close Air Base Holding US Nuclear Bombs in Response to US Threats: Erdogan

December 17, 2019 Updated: December 17, 2019
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Turkey could shut down its Incirlik air base, which hosts U.S. nuclear warheads, in response to threats of U.S. sanctions and a separate U.S. Senate resolution that recognized mass killings of Armenians a century ago as genocide, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday.

“If it is necessary for us to take such a step, of course, we have the authority … If this is necessary, together with our delegations, we will close down Incirlik if necessary,” Erdogan said on A Haber TV.

Turkey can also close down the Kurecik radar base if necessary, he added. “If they are threatening us with the implementation of these sanctions, of course, we will be retaliating,” he said.

Turkey condemned the U.S. Senate measure last week. Erdogan suggested on Sunday that Turkey could also respond with parliamentary resolutions recognizing the killings of indigenous Americans in past centuries as genocide.

Incirlik airbase in southern Turkey has been a main base for U.S. operations in the Middle East and more recently in the fight against the ISIS terrorist group in Syria and Iraq, while Kurecik, in eastern Turkey, is a key NATO base.

The United States has as many as 50 B-61 bombs stored under heavy guard at Incirlik air base. The bombs in Turkey are part of a network of roughly 150 U.S. air-delivered nuclear weapons based in Europe.

The Associated Press contributed to this report